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In the Blood

The honeybees that live in the walls of our house never did seem to like my sister. When she was six, one flew into her right ear and left its stinger there. She’s been half afraid of them, half resentful ever since. It’s the smell, my Mama says. Some molecule, some pheromone stuck down in her skin that irritates them. Makes them think that she’s a threat. The hive has been here, in the walls, in the ceiling, between the floors of our worn-out house since long before I, before Mama, before Pa, before his Papa lived here. Stayed here through snowstorms and hurricanes, through violent summers that scorched half of the earth, that burned all of the flowers. The bees are in the bones of this house. This house is in Mama’s bones and in my sister’s and in mine. The bees don’t bother me. I can stand next to them as they swarm, feel their humming in my ribs, watch as they fly from bud to bloom to home. I don’t get stung. They land in my hair, on my shoulders, on my scar. We must smell different, my sister and I, though the parts that made us are the same.